They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, look at the picture above – it shows the iOS 5.1 adoption rate since the new version was made available on March 6th alongside the announcement of the new iPad, as compiled by developer David Smith. After two weeks … 63% of the total userbase had switched.
And that percentage includes folks who have iOS 3 limited devices like my first-gen iPod Touch (or first gen iPhone), or iOS 4 limited devices like anything before the iPhone 3GS. If you were looking just at ‘opportunities’, the percentage would be even higher!
And … here is the picture for Android over the last several months.
As of the latest data, 61.5% of Android users are using OS 2.3 Gingerbread … an OS introduced in late 2010. And over 6 months Gingerbread has climbed from ~30% to just over 60%, or about 5% share increase per month. So within two weeks iOS 5.1 has seen greater adoption than Android 2.3 in more than 18 months. Yes, I know it isn’t so simple …
Why is this comparison noteworthy? Because it shows that given the option, users will adopt the latest operating system. With iOS they are given that opportunity … but ironically with Android, the so-called ‘open’ OS, they are not. They need to wait for it to go through a labyrinthine approval process that will certainly take months if not years to happen … if it ever does.
Sure, you can hack your phone and install whatever version of Android you want, but a few thoughts on that:
- Nobody, from Google to the phone OEM to the carrier, will support your device once you do this.
- Some carriers and OEMs have implemented methods to stop you from doing this – making it clear it is NOT a standard practice.
- Some apps, even from Google, will not work if you are ‘rooted’.
I sit here with my beloved Droid 4 (seriously, the keyboard is awesome, as is the rest of the phone), wishing only that it was running Android 4.0 ICS. But I know I have at least a few more months to wait – and I am one of the lucky ones. Right now activations are estimated at 11 Gingerbread devices for every Ice Cream Sandwich device. This means that without existing devices getting updates ICS would continue to LOSE market share for a very long time … and it is barely above 1% now!
Bottom line: everyone pooh-poohed Apple’s OTA updates as me-too when they launched. Yet I cannot think of another OS adoption that even comes CLOSE to what we are seeing. And the user experience has generally been quite smooth – the biggest complaints I heard were about the inability to download because the servers were clogged. Now it seems that the Android community has something to learn from Apple about OTA and OS updates. Build it, let them have it … and they will come in droves.